Freesteel Blog » A guided walk through the US congressional records

A guided walk through the US congressional records

Monday, June 2nd, 2008 at 11:51 am Written by:

In Britain the political parties consider the votes of their MPs such a serious matter that 40 of their number are given the task of policing it, and disobedience requires the resignation from any ministerial post. The public, unfortunately, don’t pay any attention.

In the US, however, congressional votes are a campaigning matter, as you can see in the following TV ad that was highlighted on

If you watch carefully, you’ll notice the code “HR 2642 #328 5/15/08” appearing several times in the top right hand corner.

There’s no other mention of this code from any of the blog commenters here, or on the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) webpage where they further outline the phases of the campaign which involves radio ads, and automated phone calls in the voice of General Wes Clark (the man who ran the 76 day NATO bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999) targeted at particular representatives in their district.

What was the Roll Call vote #328 on House of Representatives Bill 2642 about exactly? If the DCCC are urging people to phone the Republican Minority leader, John Boehner, won’t it be obvious that that they don’t know jack? How can this be improved?

As all the publicizers of this ad are so useless at providing the details, it’s necessary to put “HR 2642” into google and find the multitudinous of publicwhip-type websites that are flourishing on the better quality data in the United States on the back of the greater attention paid to these matters…

For this bill, I can find:

The bill appears to be called: “Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008”. The websites above are confusingly unhelpful (like the US legislative process, randomly balkanised as it is between the House and the Senate), and you can’t decode the #328 number. There are three votes in the House of Representatives on 15 May 2008, so presumably the DCCC TV ad must refer to one of them. They are:

3:30 PM On Agreeing to the Senate Amendment With Amendment No. 1: H R 2642 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Failed 141-149, 144 not voting
3:37 PM On Agreeing to the Senate Amendment With Amendment No. 2: H R 2642 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Passed 227-196, 11 not voting
3:45 PM On Agreeing to the Senate Amendment With Amendment No. 3: H R 2642 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Passed 256-166, 12 not voting

After carefully reviewing the links on the different websites above, I can confirm that “On Agreeing to the Senate Amendment With Amendment No. 1” is the vote that the DCCC chose to invest tens of thousands of dollars to under-inform the public about via automated phone calls and TV slots. The voting break-down reported on OpenCongress (includes enormous spread out list of names and some useless pie charts) comes to:

  • Ayes: 141 (Democrat: 84; Republican: 56)
  • Nays: 149 (Democrat: 147; Republican: 2)
  • Abstained: 12 (Democrat: 3; Republican: 9)
  • Present: 132
  • Required percentage of ‘Aye’ votes: 1/2 (50%)
  • Percentage of ‘aye’ votes: 32%
  • Result: Failed

So, the Yanks appear to have invented a fifth voting category called “present” to go with the four that are required in the United Nations (for, against, abstain and absent). The UK Parliament makes do with just three (aye, no and absent). Normally “absent” gets lumped with “abstain”. I don’t quite get that 32% number quoted. Does it mean that the abstain and present votes are actually counted as though they were against?

What makes it really odd is that a 2/3 majority of Democrats voted against the Amendment 1, and lost narrowly because only some of the Republicans voted for it, with all the rest voting “Present”.

The majority of the (split) democratic party carried the vote.

Why would people in the Democratic party then mount a multi-state TV, radio and robot phone call campaign complaining that the Republicans had voted “present” when if more of them had voted they would have almost certainly overturned the will of the majority of the voting Democrats?

What was that Amendment 1 actually about anyway?

On none of these citizens webpages, including the very well-funded ones sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation, is there a link to it. The fact that none of the users and referrers to these sites shows any curiosity about the specific content really disappoints me. It appears as if all the on-line reformatted information is flowing from the official roll-call web-page with the URL, as there is nothing new that is not directly derived from here, and this government web-page lacks a link to the content of the vote.

So much for all that.

Because of their absolute failure to deep-link in any meaningful way I have to use the general search engine a second time and navigate through the Library of Congress Thomas website, which isn’t easy.

The official page for the HR2642 bill data is here. If you use search you go through a whole bunch of temporary URLs that are valid for about 20 minutes, so you have to discover where you are going, and then browse through to it properly.

The link Major Congressional Actions on HR 2642 provides titles and links to the votes, but not the amendments that were voted, so that’s useless.

Using some further effort and technical browsing it’s finally possible to get to this page, which is some kind of very poor table of contents with page numbers. The link says pages H3912-3917, but it’s actually H3912-H4044.

I can’t give you any further links down because they are all temporary URLs that will give a “page not found” 20 minutes after I post this blog. I recommend you click on the link Printer Friendly Display – 770,463 bytes at the top of the page.

Now we have thousands of lines of text with all the necessary content in need of some serious beautification by one of these well-funded foundations — or an independent citizen with an eye for something interesting.

As the page is entirely without anchor-tags or decent formatting, I’ll walk you through this astonishing document (lists of weapons are best read in a manic Nazi-Hitlerian voice) while you use the Find feature of your browser.

After some waffle, the “senate amendment” is read out, which I think is the content of the original Bill before amendment, “that the following sums are appropriated… for military construction… for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008”

This contains a series of precise financial quantities are stated with strings attached. The first part includes accommodation, base closure programs ($8billion), cleaning up filthy and completely unnecessary chemical weapons stockpiles that were ordered by generals too ignorant to notice that it was all only going to poison their own men and country ($104million), and the provision that “none of the funds available to the Department of Defense for military construction or family housing during the current fiscal year may be used to pay real property taxes in any foreign nation.”

Buried so it’s incredibly easy to miss is the text:

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I offer the motion at the desk.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the motion.
The text of the motion is as follows:
Motion offered by Mr. Obey:
Mr. Obey moves that the House concur in the Senate amendment with three House amendments.
The text of House amendment No. 1 to the Senate amendment is as follows:
Page 60 of the Senate engrossed amendment, strike lines 1 through 3 and insert the following: …

It starts with money sections. Under “Military personnel” there’s army $11,807,655,000, navy: $866,753,000, marine corps: $1,820,571,000, Air Force: $1,286,153,000, repeated for “reserve personnel”, “national guard personnel”, “operation and maintenance” and on and on and on.

Addtional procurements Army Navy Air Force
Aircraft $954,111,000 $3,411,254,000 $7,028,563,000
Missiles $561,656,000 $66,943,000
Weapons $5,393,471,000 $317,456,000
Ammunition $344,900,000 $304,945,000 $205,455,000
Other $15,967,340,000 $1,260,135,000 $1,903,167,000

Later, we get:

The text of House amendment No. 2 to the Senate amendment is as follows:
Page 60 of the Senate engrossed amendment, after line 3, insert the following:

“…No individual in the custody or under the effective control of an element of the intelligence community or instrumentality thereof, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations.”

“…None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be used to detain any individual who is in the custody or under the effective control of an element of the intelligence community or an instrumentality thereof unless the International Committee of the Red Cross is provided notification of the detention of and access to such person in a timely manner and consistent with the practices of the Armed Forces of the United States.”

“…None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended by the United States Government… [to] establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq; or to exercise United States control over any oil resource of Iraq.”

“…Sec. 11302. (a) Clarification of Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.– (1) INCLUSION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS”

Neat. That looks like the end of Guantanamo Bay, the occupation of Iraq for oil, and the legal impunity of military contractors gone in one go.

There’s also funds for “Peacekeeping operations” authorized in Afghanistan, the West Bank, Mexico, and Central America, as well as $704,000,000 to New Orleans to modify the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue, and London Avenue drainage canals and install pumps and closure structures at or near the lakefront.

Later we get:

The text of House amendment No. 3 to the Senate amendment is as follows:

Page 1 of the Senate engrossed amendment, strike line 1 and all that follows through the end of line 21 on page 59, and insert the following:

More money and stuff follows including:



(a) General Rule.–In the case of a taxpayer other than a corporation, there is hereby imposed (in addition to any other tax imposed by this subtitle) a tax equal to 0.47 percent of so much of modified adjusted gross income as exceeds $500,000

Finally, halfway down, without shred of formatting in all this legislation to identify the boundary, we get some dialog:


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I make a point of order against consideration of the measure.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman will state his point of order.

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I make a point of order that the measure causes an increase in the deficit over a 6- and 11-year period and therefore violates clause 10 of House rule XXI, the PAYGO point of order.

Mr. Speaker, there is undeniably net direct spending included in this bill. Hence it increases the deficit. Simply by putting new entitlement spending on an appropriation bill in order to evade PAYGO would constitute a blatant loophole in the PAYGO point of order. If PAYGO is designed to prevent increases in the deficit, this measure should not be considered here today.


Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, we have a tough problem before the House today. We have a war which the majority of this House despises. We have a war that we do not have the power to end so long as the President is as obstreperous as he has been on the subject. That means that we have to find a way to try to manage this problem in a way that sends a clear message to the public that they are the only ones who can, in fact, muster the power to change direction on this war by electing a President who will get us out of this war. It also means we have to manage it in such a way that we set the table for the new President to give him at least a few months to think through how he is going to proceed to extricate us from this war and to get his ducks in a row on Iraqi policy. Therefore, we are taking the Senate bill and we are asking the House to consider three amendments and work their will on it.

The first amendment is very simple. It’s an up-or-down vote on providing the funding to pay for the equipment and to pay for the salaries for the troops as long as they are going to be in the war situation. That money will be estimated to run out by June of 2009.

The second amendment would simply be an up-or-down vote on the conditions that the House believes should appropriately be attached to the spending of that money, many of which the House has seen before. Those conditions will, among other things, require that virtually every unit sent to the war be fully combat ready. They will provide that no one who works for the United States may engage in interrogation techniques that are at variance with the Army Field Manual. In plain language, no torture. The conditions will also say that there shall be no long-term security agreements entered into with Iraq without submission of those agreements to the United States Senate for their consideration. It will establish a timetable for extricating ourselves from combat by setting a goal, not a firm date but a goal, of 18 months from the date of enactment.

Also, we have added two conditions which would have the effect of requiring Iraq to provide a dollar-for-dollar match for any of the redevelopment and reconstruction activities that are being carried out by the United States Government. The effect of that would be the functional equivalent of turning 50 percent of what we provide to Iraq into loans. We’ve done it this way because we have faith that the loans would ever be repaid, and this way we guarantee that the Iraqis, who are now about to develop very large surpluses in their own budget–they will have to meet these costs up front on an equal basis before the United States proceeds to expend its own money. And it would also require that the American military be provided gasoline in Iraq at the same subsidized price as the Iraqis are being subsidized. We don’t see why the United States troops who are defending that country ought to have to pay a premium.

Then we will have a third amendment, again up or down, on the other administration requests. Those include food aid. We’ve increased the international food aid recommended by the President by $745 million. Anybody who has read the newspapers or watched television for the last 2 weeks understands why that is a moral necessity. We have also included the administration request for the Louisiana levies exactly as they have requested it as fiscal 2009 money. We have responded to a request from the Bureau of Prisons to provide $178 million so that they do not have to lay off prison guards and other personnel in the U.S. prison system. The Secretary of Commerce has requested that we provide additional funding because they run into technology problems at the U.S. Census Bureau; so we have responded to that with a $210 million appropriation. We have also added $2.2 billion in military construction funds above the President’s request to fully fund the administration’s 2008 BRAC requests. We have also included $210 million for military child care centers, which the President from that rostrum told the country he was for but neglected to ask the money for in his budget this year.

Mr. WOLF … I rise in opposition to this legislation…. I also wanted to offer an amendment that would create a bipartisan commission–much like the Iraq Study Group–to look at everything–tax policy and entitlement spending–and recommend legislative action to rein in our Federal debt.

We have $53 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and over $9 trillion dollars in debt. Standard and Poor’s Investment Service has indicated that we could lose our triple-A bonding rating as early as 2012. The value of the dollar is falling through the floor. China holds our debt. OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia hold our debt. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children.'”

Our grandchildren will bear the burden of out-of-control entitlement spending if we do not act. It’s on our watch to fix, and the process being used today shuts out critical issues that we must face.

Mr. PENCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous speaker from Illinois, whom I greatly respect, I support the war in Iraq. I have supported it from the beginning. I support providing the resources to our soldiers who are in the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. I pray for some 3,000 Indiana soldiers who are on the ground in Operation Iraqi Freedom every day. But though I support providing our soldiers with the resources they need to get the job done and come home safe, I cannot support this war supplemental bill.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the American people need to know what is going on here. I mean, this is a backroom deal for $250 billion that includes $72 billion in domestic spending that has nothing whatsoever to do with our soldiers and the war on terror. It also will increase taxes on working families by $51 billion. Higher taxes and higher domestic spending put on the backs of our soldiers is indecent, Mr. Speaker.

When my colleague from Illinois speaks about decency, it is indecent to come to this floor and play politics with our troops during a time of war. This Congress should bring a clean supplemental bill to this floor that provides our soldiers with the resources they need to get the job done and come home safe, not billions of dollars in domestic spending and higher taxes.

There are these mysterious [Begin Insert] and [End Insert] bits in the text. Here’s something after an “[End Insert]”:

National Governors Association,

DEAR CHAIRMAN BAUCUS, SENATOR GRASSLEY, CHAIRMAN RANGEL AND REPRESENTATIVE MCCRERY: On behalf of the nation’s governors, we write to express our support for an extension of unemployment benefits and to request federal assistance for states to serve a growing number of jobless individuals.

In the last month, 36 states experienced an increase in the unemployment rate. The national unemployment rate increased to 5.1 percent in March 2008. Most notable, however, is the significant number of individuals that are unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, thus exhausting all unemployment benefits. Today, approximately 16.7 percent of jobless individuals are experiencing long-term unemployment compared to approximately 11 percent at the beginning of the last recession.

The debate — badly formatted though it is — is an excellent read, and compounds the disappointment that no citizens group has thought it worthwhile to give it the treatment.

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. I thank the distinguished gentleman.

I rise in opposition to one more dollar being spent on the war in Iraq but many, many dollars spent on the brave men and women. I thank the leadership and I thank this committee for allowing us to spend dollars because of a responsibility to our troops with the GI Bill.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the continued funding of the Iraq war. While I offer my support for Amendments No. 2 and No. 3, I must oppose amendment No. 1. While amendments 2 and 3 contain provisions beneficial to the American people, designed to improve our economy and protect our young men and women, amendment 1 continues a disastrous policy of providing unrestricted funding to continue the Bush administration’s war in Iraq.

At the end of the debate — which is worth reading — we clarify:

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, following is an explanation of the amendments of the House of Representatives (relating to supplemental appropriations for fiscal years 2008 and 2009) to the amendment of the Senate to H.R. 2642, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2008.

In this statement, the provisions of the House amendments to the Senate amendment are generally referred to as `”the amended bill”.

House Amendment 1 strikes lines 1 through 3 on page 60 of the Senate amendment and inserts language providing supplemental appropriations for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2008, and additional supplemental funds for fiscal year 2009 for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

House Amendment 2 inserts after line 3 on page 60 of the Senate amendment language regarding policy for operations in Iraq and reforms relating to war profiteering and contractors.

House Amendment 3 strikes line 1 on page 1 of the Senate amendment and all that follows through line 21 on page 59, and inserts language providing supplemental appropriations for military construction, international affairs, and other security-related and domestic needs, as well as language providing for improved veterans education benefits, temporary extended unemployment compensation, and a moratorium on certain Medicaid regulations, and establishing a surtax on high income taxpayers to offset the cost of the veterans benefit provision.

The texts of the amendments are printed in the Rules Committee report (H. Rpt. 110-636) to accompany House Resolution 1197.

Unless otherwise noted, all appropriations in the amendments are designated as emergency requirements and necessary to meet emergency needs pursuant to subsections (a) and (b) of section 204 of S. Con. Res. 21, the congressional budget resolution for fiscal year 2008.

The amendments are now restated in the text slightly differently formatted with subtly different details, verbal justifications added, and lines that say: “Insert offset folio 1000A/12 here EH15my08.007”

If you used the Control-F to find your way round the text, this really screws you up.

Some more hidden dialog occurs:

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, after five years, thousands of lives lost, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent and trillions to go, the amendments adopted today are the beginning of a solution in Iraq. These amendments mandate the beginning of withdrawal, setting us on a path out of Iraq, and support critical domestic and international priorities.

The language offers some of the same prescriptions in my own Iraq legislation, including a ban on permanent bases and an increase in contractor oversight. All too often we hear reports of billions of dollars our contractors can’t account for, or the hiring of individuals our troops can’t rely on. This war will cost over $3 trillion, and I am pleased to see some funding shifted to cover more of our international obligations. I authored legislation to help the 4 million displaced Iraqis and I support the funding in this bill for migration and refugee assistance and international disaster assistance. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people, and as we have an obligation to provide for our own.

This takes you to the end of the document. If you go to here you get to a continuation of this complete shambles as the votes are done. (Don’t forget to click on Printer Friendly Display.)

Ms. WATSON, Messrs. MILLER of North Carolina, CARSON of Indiana, AL GREEN of Texas, and BECERRA changed their vote from “yea” to “nay.”

Messrs. JORDAN of Ohio, BILIRAKIS, Mrs. SCHMIDT, and Mrs. MUSGRAVE changed their vote from “present” to “yea.”

Ms. GRANGER, Messrs. DOOLITTLE, WALSH of New York, EVERETT, and SAM JOHNSON of Texas changed their vote from “yea” to “present.”

Messrs. ISSA, LINDER, WELLER of Illinois and Mrs. CUBIN changed their vote from “nay” to “present.”

So the first portion of the divided question was not adopted.

The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

Stated for:

Mr. SALI. Mr. Speaker, on rollcall No. 328, had I been present, I would have voted “yea.”


Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Speaker, on rollcall No. 328, I was in the well waving my “present” card. The Speaker clearly saw me and did not recognize me. Had I been recognized, I would have voted “present.”

And that’s just one part of one day in the disorganized paper explosion that is the United States Congress. Makes the UK Parliament look like an efficient small office — probably because it doesn’t deal with any of this financial stuff which the powers that be do not believe is any of our business.

Anyways, I think this day of exploration from start to finish has wiped out any respect I had for all that stuff done by the Sunlight foundation if I can find substantially more interesting material that needs work done to it by bypassing their stuff. People going through their websites are likely to get trapped in a dead end if they had any interest in the actual content and not know that the information actually exists elsewhere. That’s the danger of partial indexing without making it clear about what’s being left out and how to get to it.

I’m also still perplexed about the Democratic Party vote campaign choice. It’s almost as if the DCCC is vehemently pro-war and wants to get it funded for more and more and more, but the majority of party members in Congress have rebelled and voted against. So their leadership is trying to appeal to the Republicans to get their funding through with this confusing ad campaign that urges people to call their representative to vote for it. Amazingly, the DCCC don’t have any time publicize the other two votes (Amendments 2 and 3) that took place to pull out of Iraq, and fund college education for Iraq war veterans that everyone is completely in favour of, but the republicans are somehow not embarrassed to vote against.

Here’s a relevant clip from the Daily Show that explains it as your reward for getting this far:


  • 1. Legislative Reductivism |&hellip replies at 2nd July 2008, 10:24 pm :

    […] post, from the Freesteel blog, gives a detailed walk through searching down the data behind a political ad’s claims, making […]

  • 2. Joshu Tauberer replies at 3rd July 2008, 1:21 am :

    You’ve picked a particularly onerous bill. On the THOMAS website there is even a note: “H.R. 2642 is now the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (the war supplemental). H.R. 2642 was previously the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2008 and was incorporated as Division B in the H.R. 3043 conference report, subsequently removed from that bill, and enacted in H.R. 2764, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008.”

    This bill was a procedural mess, far beyond most bills, and I didn’t read all of what was going on, but it sounds like the confusion lead to all of the Present votes rather than ayes and nays. Present votes are very rare. They are abstentions, which are distinguished from absentees.

    I also think you’ve completely missed the point w.r.t GovTrack and OpenCongress, on two grounds. If the bill can only be understood by reading the procedural steps line by line, then understanding this bill is clearly in a different category than most. Understanding this bill and explaining it to others takes expertise and time, and it’s something that only has tackled so far.

    But it’s an impossible problem to provide a technical solution for without first a platform that displays the basic information on each bill. So enter GovTrack and OpenCongress. Obviously a large part of both sites is just displaying information found elsewhere in a new way. The sites display most of the information better than the official sources — things are properly interlinked and an effort is made to explain what terminology means and how the process works — but that’s just one part. The second part, for GovTrack, is helping people stay informed with RSS feeds and email updates, which you can’t get anywhere else. The third part, which is in development for both sites, it providing tools to help the public keep itself informed. The crowd-sourcing angle. Analysis.

    So I agree that no site explains this particular bill well, but it hardly represents the successful sides of any of the projects you mentioned. It just shows — not surprisingly — that there is more work that can be done.

    Josh Tauberer

  • 3. Julian replies at 3rd July 2008, 10:20 am :

    I disagree that it was confusion that lead to the “present” votes. Evidence (in the form of democratic party blogs) suggests that they were trying to corner the republicans into a yes-no vote on which both answers were problematic, so they tactically chose the “present”. This still seemed enough for them to run that crappy multi-state TV advertising campaign whose content made no sense.

    My main beef with GovTrack et al is that there’s a serious cul-de-sac with regards to *getting* to this raw, messy, as-yet unprocessed transcript.

    Now, this is a result of the way the data is arranged on Thomas: you’ve copied the voting data and the “Summary” line from the tables of votes, and there is no link in those pages connecting to the debate transcripts in which these votes should have been embedded. Instead it’s distributed across two disconnected documents.

    Same situation of separating votes and debates happens with the Australian Parliament. We’re lucky with the UK parliament, because the two types of information are embedded. (See here.)

    I feel that good indexing/linking is as essential (possibly more essential) than pretty processing. It would be extremely desirable to have a hyper-link from your “House Vote #328” page into that raw unprocessed page of debate text which I found. Then I wouldn’t have to leave the site (because it’s a cul-de-sac) and drill down through THOMAS to get to it.

    Like I said, with UK Parliament, this never was an issue. I do not know why the Thomas pages you are feeding off of don’t have it. Perhaps you could ask. Or there might be a slick way to scrape and build the links by matching vote ids. If the site had this feature, then it would become more of a complete environment in which Discovery could be facilitated.

  • 4. Joshua Tauberer replies at 3rd July 2008, 12:54 pm :

    I agree that links like that would be very useful. I’ve already done some of that — any reference to a bill by its number in the Congressional Record is indexed and linked from bill pages (see the Speeches tab). And I’m sure that it wouldn’t take much pattern matching to make links for votes. So, anyone reading should feel free to contribute the code to do it.

    But the fact is that indexing into the Congressional Record is for the vast majority of bills entirely useless. The CR is predominantly filled with press-release-style statements that are totally uninformative, and procedural statements that are completely routine. It’s important for a small number of important bills, but it’s by no means more important than, as you put it, pretty processing.

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